Several months ago, we saw this positive review in TimeOut about Palmers Restaurant, a place serving creative gourmet food not far from Victoria Park in East London. We thought it sounded interesting, but considering how hard it is to convince our W postcode friends to come over to N1, we didn’t dare try to convince them to schlepp to E2, so Palmers languished in the back of our memories. Until last weekend, that is. Jon and I were in Victoria Park to see a performance of the horsey hijinks in “Sorry!” so Palmers became the perfect post-performance dinner venue.
Palmers is a father-son effort, with Dad running front of the house and Son behind the stove. Although it was a Saturday evening, Palmers was rather empty, which might’ve been awkward, but Dad’s friendliness made us feel comfortable and welcome.
We opened our menus and were shocked at how reasonable the prices were – sophisticated-sounding starters for £6, and similarly-interesting mains for £13.
My starter of egg-yolk raviolo immediately brought to mind the black truffle version that I swooned over at Hibiscus. Although the version at Palmers was lukewarm and not quite oozing egg yolk, I appreciated the effort, and perfectly-blanched asparagus accompanied by slivers of parmesan and egg is always a winning combination. For £5.95, the dish was great value, even if it didn’t quite hit the home run that Hibsicus’s version did. The tasting menu at Hibiscus is £80, after all. It *has* to be perfect at such prices.
Jon’s bouillabaise was rich and satisfying, with a strong seafood broth, fresh, sweet sea goodies, and crispy, cheesy crostini. A nice option for a chilly summer evening.
My main course of gray mullet was enormous. Two large fillets of beautifully-pan-fried mullet was too much for one person to eat. Jon and I could have easily shared it, but what am I saying? Who complains about generosity? If I had to find fault, I’d say that there were so many ingredients in this dish that it was in danger of seeming like a bunch of trendy items haphazardly thrown together. The veloute and crispy samphire were perfect accompaniments to the mullet, but the clams and gnocchi seemed out of place.
Jon’s turbot was, again, a generous portion, especially for £14.95. And again, beautifully seared with a crisp, buttery skin and firm, sweet flesh.
Despite feeling full after our enormous main courses, we couldn’t resist our host’s enthusiasm for the cheese course. Surprise, surprise – the cheese plate was enormous. Why didn’t we bring friends?
If you want to support an ambitious, family-owned restaurant serving good food at reasonable prices, schlepp east to Palmers, pronto. From what I saw last Saturday night, it could use the support, and it’s really too bad Palmers isn’t in my neighborhood, because if it were, it’d be my favorite in no time. Is it a destination restaurant? Not quite. But next time there’s a sunny day, check out Victoria Park and be sure to end your day with dinner at Palmers.
With a £30 bottle of wine, our dinner totaled £80 for two people, and a minicab to/from Angel cost £12 each way.
Palmers Restaurant, 238 Roman Road, E2 0RY, 0208 980 5590; closest Tube station: Bethnal Green.